Fulfillment in the lifestyle

From 3-16-06 journal entry

“Currently I am reading a book called “Grace Walk” by Steve McVey.
The author writes:

“She was trying to find fulfillment through her Christian lifestyle instead of experiencing joy in Christ. Her lack of contentment caused her to believe that God must not be pleased with her.”

This describes many of the friends and workers, I believe. I know it certainly did me. I was enjoying all the benefits of the Christian lifestyle, but if you had asked me about experiencing joy in Christ, I would have looked at you with a blank face.

I really got into the worker lifestyle; that was key and many of my co-workers perpetuated that. My life was all about performance;
looking good, being organized, articulating my thoughts well, being a good companion (which I wasn’t all the time), writing copious amounts of letters, making lots of visits; those kinds of things. There is nothing wrong with any of those things, by the way, but the emphasis was more on my works than on my faith.

The author of the above mentioned book went on to write;
“My whole life was wrapped up in rules and routine. For a long time I thought that to experience success in my Christian life, I had to work harder. But I discovered that the key to enjoying success is not strenuous work, but spiritual rest.”

She also wrote;
“Just don’t close your mind to the possibility that there might be more to the Christian life than you are experiencing right now.”
That is the message I long to be able to share with the friends and workers.”

First of all, discovering Christian authors was very exciting and helpful, like rain after a drought. Various books were recommended for me along the way. I was fortunate to have three friends who were Godly Christian women, living in the town where I grew up. They had been a part of the fellowship, but had since left. Their relationship with Christ was deep and real and they totally got where I was at and walked with me every step of the way. They shared with me books they had read that had previously inspired and fed them, One of which was from the book “Grace Walk”. (I’d like to go back and read it again. I’m sure it would mean even more to me now.)

When the author wrote about trying to find fulfillment through her Christian lifestyle, it brought to my mind how the lifestyle of the friends and workers is pretty much easy breezy. It’s quiet and orderly. Simple. Predictable. You went to a minimum of 3 meetings a week, had your quiet time morning and evening, prayed before your meals, had the workers stay with you a few times a year, went to special meetings and conventions, potlucks, sings and get together s. Some of those things are still very much a part of my lifestyle; the quietness, the simple life, my quiet time.

As a worker, life was never the same but always the same. For me, special meeting rounds were the worst and conventions were the best. At convention, I would occasionally get some visits with other peers or older workers that were honest and real. There might be one outstanding message from the platform every few years or longer.

I strove to be content with it all because that was what I was supposed to do. To be discontent meant there was something wrong with …”me”. However, being content with the lifestyle because you believed it was right is so different from experiencing joy in Christ.

I can still remember good times when I was still in the Work; feeling like my life was very rich at times. I felt that way after a good visit or a good meeting or funeral (no one likes funerals the way the fellowship does). The majority of the time though, I was so bored with it all because I wasn’t experiencing much depth to visits and Bible studies, and the lifestyle itself, for me personally, was crazy making.  This was just my interpretation.  I went in to the Work with really high expectations and that did not serve me well.

So, when I read statements like the quote from that book, I would stop and really ask myself, am I experiencing joy in Christ? If I stripped away a lot of the lifestyle I had known and all that went with it, would I have joy in Christ and Christ alone?

I had to find out.

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